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Politically correcting our favorite movies


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We all know that our current social climate prevents moviemakers from going to places that are now considered taboo. Places that we once loved, but now are off limits.

 

The point of this topic is to revere those moments that you will never see again because of PC bullshit. The first one that springs to mind is the Airplane scene with the black guys speaking jive. No way that flies today, no matter how funny it is.

 

So what other scenes can you think of from your favorite movies that would not be allowed today?

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I'll play along--but I have to ask.   Why is it BS? Why is it bad that we're more sensitive.   I'm sure the answer is "because it ruins the funny", ands I don't disagree. But if it isn't funny to the

I think that there are two separate issues:   1) Types of things being acceptable in the past but not making it into modern movies   2) Erasing content from old movies.   In the case of 1, that's li

If you're American, Stevil, you live in a society founded by puritans. It's never really been washed out of the fabric of US culture. That's why we're having this discussion. Keep that in mind.   In

I'll play along--but I have to ask.

 

Why is it BS? Why is it bad that we're more sensitive.

 

I'm sure the answer is "because it ruins the funny", ands I don't disagree. But if it isn't funny to the person it's making fun of, isn't a good thing? Maybe comedy isn't the right place to talk about being PC, but the culture of jokes like that being okay is what leads is to hitting the place we are.

 

In theory, I don't think being PC is bad and the only people who say that it is tend to be white dudes, and comedians.

 

But I'll play along-- pretty much any 80s movie I've tried to show my kid (Monster Squad and Adventures in Babysitting come to mind), the word "homo" is used as an insult.

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And we're just going to assume anything before 1965 gets a pass for its sexism and racism right? My friend covets her copy of White Christmas on VHS she got from Target in the 90s cause it has the blackface number. She loves ruining Christmases.

 

And even if it makes me terrible the Jive talk is classic.

 

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY-- SEE A BROAD AND GET ALL BOOTY-EYE'D, LAY EM DOWN AND SMACK EM YACK EM!

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I'd probably put it into two separate categories. Movies that should be offensive in hindsight and movies that are offensive for legit PC reasons.

 

Blackface and yellowface are fairly standard examples of the former. You just can't not feel uncomfortable watching Breakfast at Tiffany's these days even though Mickey Rooney's a rather likable guy. Then you've got sex comedy tropes like Revenge of the Nerds where in hindsight the wacky sexcapades of the nerds cross the line into sex crimes about half a dozen times, up to and including straight-up rape.

 

For that type of stuff, yeah, I'm okay leaving it in the dumpster.

 

But some classic cases of PC infection like complaints about stuff like Raiders of the Lost Ark and theft of cultural artifacts and the crows in Dumbo probably go a bit far. Even viewed in modern context, they're really not all that objectionable, but the complaints are still there.

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I think that there are two separate issues:

 

1) Types of things being acceptable in the past but not making it into modern movies

 

2) Erasing content from old movies.

 

In the case of 1, that's life. There was a point where use of the n-word was completely acceptable, and not really that long ago. Then society decided that it was a poor choice and it changed. And there are plenty of other examples of society changing. Witches, flat Earth, George Lucas making movies, etc.

 

For number 2, I think we're doing a huge disservice to the past and to the present by pretending this stuff didn't exist. We also shouldn't just be using it to villify people from the past for being part of their society. Rather, we should be trying to understand that society so we can better understand how we got here. And that should include the stuff that makes us uncomfortable, like the "acceptable/funny" rape in Revenge of the Nerds, or the blackface from White Christmas.

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I'd probably put it into two separate categories. Movies that should be offensive in hindsight and movies that are offensive for legit PC reasons.

My brain immediately goes toward the cartoons I used to watch as a kid. They had both categories going for them. Some, like Tom & Jerry, had the blackface or other ethnic stereotypes on full display which thankfully are gone now. But others had stuff that is considered offensive now strictly for PC reasons, such as Fred Flinstone smoking or Elmer Fudd shooting at Bugs and Daffy.

 

As far as movies, you can pretty much count on any comedy up until recently having offensive material. Think of a classic like National Lampoon's Vacation and the St Louis scene.

 

Whenever I catch one of these old films, I often wonder. If a movie like Police Academy were released today, how would that play out?

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Funny you should mention that LDH. I just rewatched those. Political correctness is the reason we don't get movies like those anymore. I think it's a real shame because I grew up with them and saw them for what they were, lighthearted silly comedy.

 

They're still pretty good movies, but in the context of the discussion, they serve as a historical piece and reflect humour and attitudes of the time. Things have changed a lot since then.

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But others had stuff that is considered offensive now strictly for PC reasons, such as Fred Flinstone smoking or Elmer Fudd shooting at Bugs and Daffy.

 

My favorite example is Speedy Gonzalez. By all rights he should be an embarrassment to the Looney Tunes as one of their more blatant stereotypes, but oddly enough he's beloved in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. Whenever the corporates try to take him down so as to not offend anyone, the loudest cries to bring him back come from Mexicans.

 

Of course, there are tons of cartoons that fall into this category. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs is simultaneously an embarrassment to Warner Bros. that they almost always pretend never happened while also often considered one of the greatest animated shorts ever made by animation historians.

 

Now, I'm not much of a jazz guy, so I don't completely get it. I'm more taking my intellectual better's word that Coal Black is elevated art. However, Disney released one if its most controversial shorts that same year, Der Fuehrer's Face, and... yeah it's legit one of the best Disney shorts ever made and Donald's best solo work despite all the stuff that, my goodness, we should never do now. It's not as in your face offensive as some stuff, but the Japanese caricatures are pretty brutal. I mean, watch it.

 

 

Even by today's standards, there's a ton of razor sharp imagery, comedy, and commentary in there that makes it pretty much impossible to deny its artistic merits.

 

And just to conclude the little stroll down Disney lane, I never got what made Song of the South so objectionable that it had to be buried.

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This topic is actually something that could just as easily belong in the lyceum, but I think it is a topic worthy of discussion.

 

To be honest, I am somewhat conflicted on this topic, because films in some ways, act as historical record and gives us a window into what things were like, even if often from a skewed view of reality that film offers. I love to watch old 1940s movies for that reason, particularly film noir (seeing how people looked, acted, the technology of the time, the fashion of the time, etc is interesting to me), but there are times I come across a scene where a minority person is clearly and offensively treated as an "other," or a woman is treated as if she is a child and unable to think or act as an equal with men, and it makes me uncomfortable. So, to me, it's not surprising that old films, except for a select set of "criterion" films, are forgotten, and younger generations seem to generally have zero interest in anything filmed before 1990, unless you are talking about a Spielberg or Lucas film .

 

For those reasons, I also totally understand calls for removing or censoring such scenes. I am against censorship, but I also recognize that there are cases where it may be prudent to either censor a particular phrase, or scene, due to cultural sensitivity when broadcast. But at the same time, I think taking a Stalinist approach of forever altering, erasing, sanitizing, and destroying the original versions of films, T V shows, cartoons, etc. is a missed opportunity to point out to younger generations what things were like, and also explain why something is offensive and why it should not be perpetuated in today's society.

 

Not really quite the same thing (though an analogy can be inferred here), but look at what George Lucas did with Star Wars. Not that you can't find the original versions, but Lucas did everything he could to try to erase the original cuts from social memory, and versions of the originals that do exist are of a very inferior quality so most people don't want to watch them. To an extent, he succeeded, because there is almost a whole generation that hasn't seen the original versions (unless they actively sought it out on glorious, low res VHS, or Laser disk transfers to DVD) of the OT, and that is a shame because those were far better without the gratuitous CGI additions, that were only put in so that the older films blended better with the PT. So, completely deleting parts of movies forever, or trying to pretend the movies don't exist, based on topics that are now considered controversial or offensive, does a disservice to future generations, and in some ways, hurts the cause of those said censorship is actually seeking to protect. Without seeing what was said, or how people were depicted, how can future generations truly understand the struggle women and minorities faced?

 

I also think that a distinction should be made when it is parody or lampooning of a racial topic (IE Blazing Saddles), versus something that can be seen as straight up racism (IE 1940s Tom & Jerry...many racist jokes like blackface, or the housekeeper/ Tom's owner). There is no way a movie like Blazing Saddles could be made today, but through its depiction of racism, it is actually a social commentary of how stupid racism is: it's not promoting it, it's bashing racists. It's just that the language used is far more unacceptable today, than when it was released (to be sure, it was controversial even then). But Tom and Jerrry? It was even recognized in the 1950s that the 1940s versions went too far...they removed the house keeper and put Tom and Jerry in a home with a June and Ward Cleaver-type of couple! So, I have no problem with the 1940s versions being altered, or not shown at all (so long as the originals are archived somewhere).

 

That said, I especially wince at racial epithets. One of my all time favorite comedies is The Jerk, which is rarely, if ever shown on TV or cable. The whole premise is ridiculous, and totally politically incorrect: Steve Martin being raised by a black family, unaware he is actually white. It's so ridiculous, it works in an odd way, until the scene where Steve Martin, upon hearing a racial epithet announces he is offended and proceeds to fight these other characters (the "Sir, I am a" scene). and that is where I feel really uncomfortable.

 

So, in short, I am not sure what the solution is, or if there even is one. I understand and agree with both sides of the argument. I am pro-cultural sensitivity, and anti-censorship. But I also recognize that when something is offensive to an entire group of people, their wishes can't be ignored, either. Perhaps, like confederate flags being relegated to the basements of museums, the original versions of these films with offensive content should be locked up in a vault somewhere for historians and anthropologists to study. Then again, youtube made that impossible! Like I said, no clear answer, and I don't know that there really is one.

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HOLLYWOOD: A History of Glamorisation, Sexualisation and De-Sensitisation of Weapons and War; Sexualisation, Exploitation, De-Feminising and Underpaying Women; Exploiting, Under-Representing, Racially Abusing, Disrespecting Minorities and Other Representations of Culture and Race; Mocking, Alienating, Stereotyping and Misunderstanding Sexuality and Sticking Pins in all Representations of Faith the World Over.

 

What was the tagline of Police Academy 1 again? "What an Institution!"

 

That movie needs to be made :)

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Why is it BS? Why is it bad that we're more sensitive.

 

I'm sure the answer is "because it ruins the funny", ands I don't disagree. But if it isn't funny to the person it's making fun of, isn't a good thing? Maybe comedy isn't the right place to talk about being PC, but the culture of jokes like that being okay is what leads is to hitting the place we are.

 

In theory, I don't think being PC is bad and the only people who say that it is tend to be white dudes, and comedians.

It truly is mostly comedies that have scenes that are outright offensive now. But I think the "BS" comes with stuff that takes things out of context. For example, I've read several reviews that state Psycho is offensive because it paints cross dressers in a bad light. That would be like hockey fans being offended by Jason in Friday the 13th.
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Why is it BS? Why is it bad that we're more sensitive.

 

I'm sure the answer is "because it ruins the funny", ands I don't disagree. But if it isn't funny to the person it's making fun of, isn't a good thing? Maybe comedy isn't the right place to talk about being PC, but the culture of jokes like that being okay is what leads is to hitting the place we are.

 

In theory, I don't think being PC is bad and the only people who say that it is tend to be white dudes, and comedians.

It truly is mostly comedies that have scenes that are outright offensive now. But I think the "BS" comes with stuff that takes things out of context. For example, I've read several reviews that state Psycho is offensive because it paints cross dressers in a bad light. That would be like hockey fans being offended by Jason in Friday the 13th.

Maybe they should check out Sleepaway Camp.

 

In my experience horror fans tend to be the most accepting of diversity than any other fandom.

 

Back on topic, I agree the answer isn't erasing the record. But I do think problematic films should be placed in a context that accepts the flaws but still let's it be seen.

 

I hate to say it should come with a trigger warning, but there's a reason they exist.

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The way things are going films will be written in the style of THX1138 with bald non-gender specific actors working in a sterile environment so as to not offend anyone.

 

Psycho was a good point. That film wasn't written in a way to offend transgender or transvestite people. It's actually just that the guy has severe mental illness. Should mentally ill people be offended? Or did it bring about an awareness?

 

The guy from Silence of the Lambs did wonders for the cause as well.

 

My point is that people will see what they want to see regardless of how certain things are intended. They will take issue with whatever suits their cause.

 

I think the key is to be sensitive of certain things like that but not compromise the characters you create. It's a fine line for sure.

 

If I wanted to write a story about a mass murdering Vietnamese Trans-Gender Zoroastrian Lesbian Truck Driver everyone would think I'm mad for a start. But it's not impossible to write that story. I'd have to be careful not to offend about five different groups of people but it would be fine as long as the character was written with substance and feeling and realism.

 

It goes back to my earlier point about Police Academy. You can't make those films any more because it's not ok to be funny without considering who you might offend. You couldn't have Captain Harris calling Mahoney "Mahomo". You couldn't have the naked shower scene and you couldn't have Blanks calling Hooks a "Big Fat Jigaboo".

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So what other scenes can you think of from your favorite movies that would not be allowed today?

Since we are on a forum that grew out of Star Wars fandom, shouldn't the first thing that springs to all our minds be Slave Leia?

 

Imagine the furor that would rise if in Episode IX there was a scene in which Rey is captured by a gangster and dressed up in a bikini to be the house entertainment.

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Wasn't there a story sometime ago that Disney was banning Slave Leia from all future merchandise and artwork/depictions of the character? What side of the argument would this fall on—it shows progress in gender equality or it's PC bs?

 

On the one hand it seems overly sensitive. Come on, Jabba was a disgusting creature and he got his comeuppance by the very same woman whom he was treating as a sex object.

 

On the other hand, I can understand why it's sexist. No way do they do that with a male character. What if Jabba had been a female and instead of keeping Han on a wall frozen in carbonite she had defrosted him, put him in a speedo and kept him by her side in a neck chain?

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